Recently, I became engaged to the man who is beyond all of my wildest dreams and deepest hopes and anticipations. He is incredible, and he is the man whom I have chosen.
I decided on Alec. Over the course of my three semesters at Bible school, we got to know each other, began dating, and are now newly engaged and planning our wedding. Wow. I never thought I would experience God’s grace in this way, and never at 19.
I’m engaged at 19 years old. An RA here at school, in my junior semester, and overwhelmed by so many things. Overwhelmed with a new sense of love and being in love with Alec, overwhelmed at all of the responsibilities I have at school (i.e. homework, meeting with my dean, spending time to invest in other believers, having a job outside of these walls), overwhelmed with responses to our engagement both here and from home in Virginia. There are so many feelings and sentiments I have felt in these short days and hours of engagement, it’s difficult to begin to recount and understand them all.
Prompted by one of my teachers from high school commenting on the announcement of my engagement on Facebook: “Of course I ask, ‘Why the rush?’ but with the utmost love,” I began thinking on the realities of marriage and how in fact, for Alec and I, this isn’t rushed at all. It’s been time together at school, time apart for breaks, time seeing him in a different environment once he graduated from Bible school, time being poured into, and time pouring out into each other and other believers. It’s been time doing ministry together, discussing truth together, learning each other, and walking with God as we try to figure out what it looks like to love the way Christ does the Church.
Bigger than these things is the reality of what marriage is, and why it is the single greatest gift God gives to believers. Marriage, as designed by God, was intended to reflect Christ’s relationship to the Church, as well as the individual believer’s intimacy with Christ Himself. I will not be marrying Alec because I am lonely, or because I need security, or because I want companionship. I will not become a married woman to prove (or disprove) myself to others around me, to get attention, or to rebel against societal norms, within and without Christendom. I will be marrying Alec convinced and confident that God has led me here, and that marriage is so much more than sex and sharing a closet with someone else.
When God created everything in the beginning, He noted that “it is not good that the man should be alone; I will make a helper fit for him (Genesis 2:18).” So, He created Eve, fully aware that she would screw up and take the fruit of the tree which she and her husband were forbidden to eat from. Fully aware that she would be deceived and not believe God for what he had said. Fully aware that she would make a choice that would break His heart.
Then, throughout Scripture, we find that God delights in calling the body of Christ the Bride of Christ, His dear Son. We find that God is aware that the corporate Church is made up of screw-ups and beggars, dirty and beaten and raggedy. He’s aware of our fallen nature, of our wicked hearts, of our propensity to believe lies. Yet, He chooses us. When we became believers, Christ sent His Spirit to dwell in us. And you know what He is doing? He is beautifying us, the Bride, for the day we will meet our Groom. He wants to ensure that we are blameless when we behold our Husband in all His splendor. And just as God created Eve for Adam, so He created the Church for Christ. Just as God was aware that Eve would fail, so He knows we came to Him as failures and will only continue to fail. And He has gladly accepted us in His Son.
This marriage that the Church will ultimately share with Christ will be the sweetest thing we will ever know. We can’t even begin to imagine what it will be like to serve alongside Christ in eternity, He our loving Husband and we His beloved Bride. He chose us, He has dressed us up in His righteousness, and He has been preparing us for our wedding day. And even now, as we walk with Him, fail daily, and struggle with sin, He delights in us. We, the Bride, are eternally pleasing to God the Father and the Son to whom we are engaged. We are “accepted in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6).”
Woah dude. What grace. How undeserving I am to be the beloved of God in Christ, to be delighted in, to be part of the Bride! What rich mercy.
So, I don’t think marriage is only two people standing at an alter to proclaim ‘I do’ and yet still somehow have an option to leave when the going gets tough, when I’m not happy, when my spouse did something wrong.
Oh no, dear brothers and sisters. It is the means by which Alec and I will get to know Christ better. The method God will use to beautify (sanctify) Alec and I as members of His Bride for the final wedding day. It is the best picture we have of how Christ loves the Church and how His Bride responds to Him.
I am convinced and I am confident, not only in my decision to marry Alec, not only that two believers getting married is very good in the eyes of the Lord, but that the true purpose of marriage far surpasses any human ideals and standards our hurt and deceived hearts can conceive of.
And that is something I will believe God for. Because He is trustworthy and good and faithful. He has never failed or forsaken, and His Word stands as true as a single woman today as it will when I am married to Alec.
and this is the grace I cling to.